How Assumptions and Preferences Can Affect Patient Care: An Introduction to Implicit Bias for First-Year Medical Students

Cristina M. Gonzalez, Stephanie Nava, Julie List, Alyssa Liguori, Paul R. Marantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Instruction in implicit bias is becoming prevalent across the spectrum of medical training. Little education exists for preclinical students, and guidance for faculty to facilitate such education is minimal. To address these gaps, we designed and delivered a single session for incoming first-year medical students and developed a facilitator training program. Methods: One faculty member delivered a 1-hour, multimedia, interactive lecture to all first-year medical students. Students subsequently met in small groups with trained facilitators. Activities included reflection, guided debriefing, and strategy identification to become aware of when they might be making an assumption causing them to jump to a conclusion about someone. The program evaluation consisted of aggregated student strategies and facilitator feedback during postsession debriefs, both analyzed through thematic analysis. Results: We delivered instruction to 1,098 students. Student strategies resulted in three themes: (1) humility, (2) reflection, and (3) partnering. The postsession debriefs uncovered opportunities to enhance the session. Lessons learned included presenting material to an entire class at once, allowing students to engage in dynamic discussion in the small groups, eliminating anonymous polling in the small groups, and highlighting management of implicit bias as essential to professional development. Discussion: Our instructional design enabled first-year medical students to identify at least one strategy to use when implicit biases are activated. The large-group session was deliverable by one faculty member, and volunteers successfully facilitated small-group sessions after only one training session, making this model a feasible innovation to reach an entire medical school class at the same time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11162
Number of pages1
JournalMedEdPORTAL : the journal of teaching and learning resources
StatePublished - 2021


  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Faculty Development
  • Health Care Disparities
  • Health Equity
  • Implicit Bias
  • Unconscious Bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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